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Electronic Resource Guide

Researching Public
International Law

Kelly Vinopal*

This page was last updated May 1, 2015

his electronic resource guide, often called the ERG, has been published
online by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) since 1997.
Since then it has been systematically updated and continuously
expanded. The chapter format of the ERG is designed to be used by
students, teachers, practitioners and researchers as a self-guided tour of relevant,
quality, up-to-date online resources covering important areas of international
law. The ERG also serves as a ready-made teaching tool at graduate and
undergraduate levels.
The narrative format of the ERG is complemented and augmented by
EISIL (Electronic Information System for International Law), a free online
database that organizes and provides links to, and useful information on, web
resources from the full spectrum of international law. EISIL's subject-organized
format and expert-provided content also enhances its potential as teaching tool.

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I. Introduction
II. Research Approach and Methodology
III. Sources of International Law
A. Treaties
B. Customary International Law
C. Principles of International Law
D. Writings of Publicists
E. Judicial Decisions
F. Non-Legally Binding Instruments
IV. Texts and Journals
V. Institutions and Organizations
VI. Citation Guides and Dictionaries
VII. Research Guides
VIII. Translation Resources
IX. Current Awareness Resources

Public international law is traditionally defined as the law between sovereign nation-states,
hereinafter, states, especially within the context of the laws of war, peace and security, and protection
of territories. While these concerns of international law remain paramount among states today, the
classic definition of public international law has expanded to include a more diverse group of
subjects and a broader scope of activities.

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In addition to states as subjects of international law, other participants engaged in international law
activities and its development include private entities, individuals, and international organizations.
Treaty instruments associated with different actors or subjects of international law include the
Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, December 26, 1933,(
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/intam03.asp). Article I of the Convention reads,
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a) a
permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) government; and (d) capacity to enter into
relations with other states.

Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the
Field. Geneva, August 22, 1864 (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/geneva04.asp).
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) (https://www.icrc.org/eng), is a
private, independent entity created in 1863 to promote international humanitarian laws
under the Geneva Conventions.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948

(http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Pages/Introduction.aspx). The Universal Declaration on
Human Rights allows actions invoking international law by individuals other than
representatives of a State.

Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties between States and International

Organizations or Between International Organizations, March 21, 1986
(http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/vcltsio/vcltsio.html). This instrument recognizes international
organizations as achieving subject status to enter into treaties.
The traditional definition of international law has also broadened in scope to include additional
topics or branches of international law. As illustrated in the dates of the instruments listed above, the
body of human rights law did not formally develop until after World War II. Recognition of
international organizations having legal personality and capacity to enter into treaties is reflected in
the 1986 instrument.
Newer and emerging areas of international law often involve an intersection between two or more
branches of international law, for example, international humanitarian law impacts the protection of
cultural property and environmental law. For detailed research guidance on individual topics of
public and private international law, see other chapters of the Guide (http://www.asil.org/erg/).
The focus of the present chapter of the ASIL Electronic Research Guide is on researching public
international law through its documentation, literature, and other resources.

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Several unique features distinguish international law research from researching law of domestic legal
systems. These features relate to non-hierarchical legal authority, the interaction of international and
national law, and language considerations.
Non-Hierarchical Authority Legislative and Judicial
The absence of a central legislative body and hierarchical judicial authority is unique to international
law. The largest international organization is the United Nations (UN) which currently has 193
member states (https://www.un.org/en/). Resolutions and declarations of the UN and other
international organizations are non-legally binding instruments and do not create legal obligations
for States. Additional information about the role of soft law instruments in international law
development is provided in section III. F of this chapter.
The jurisprudence of international law consists of case law from a variety of international courts and
tribunals. With the exception of courts like the World Trade Organization (WTO) arbitral chamber
and appellate courts or, the appellate character that may exist in courts of regional institutions like
the European Union (EU), there is no high court in international law. The International Court of
Justice (ICJ), the judicial organ of the United Nations, is named the World Court; however, it is not
a hierarchical or appellate court. The decisions of the ICJ are only binding on the states that have
agreed to its jurisdiction. Still, ICJ decisions, like decisions of other international and national
courts, may be consulted or referenced as persuasive authority.
International Law and National Law
A unique dimension of researching international law relates to the way in which national legal
systems incorporate, implement, or apply international law in their domestic or municipal law.
Thus, in addition to researching resources of international law, research in national law materials
such as legislative acts and judicial decisions may be necessary. For further information on
researching national law, see Section III.B. Customary International Law in this chapter.
Multilateral Perspectives for Multilateral Instruments
Given the multilateral participation of member states in international law, resources and documents
may be available in selected languages only. In the event the researcher is met by language limitations
in accessing certain materials, translations and works from different legal systems and perspectives
must be identified, if available and affordable. Information regarding translations is provided in
section VII. of this chapter.
French has historically been the dominant language used in international relations and diplomacy
and also, documents of international law. Since WWII, English language versions or translations
became more commonplace. Translations for multilateral instruments deposited with the UN are
available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.

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Initial Search Strategy

One general note that applies to researchers new to a particular area of international law is the role of
secondary resources in the research process. Even in an increasingly internet-dominant research
environment, consulting authoritative texts and other secondary resources continues to be an
important and time saving step for several reasons. Secondary resources: 1) provide a solid,
foundational understanding of the subject, 2) identify the principal instruments, significant court
decisions, and other relevant documents in the topic area along with corresponding citation
information, 3) provide discussion and analysis of known customary law, legal principles, and
norms, 4) introduce and define important terms and concepts, and, 5) allow the researcher to
perform online searches more effectively by constructing searches using known terms of art and
alternate search terms.
Information on commentary and secondary texts is provided in is sections III.D. Writings of
Publicists and IV. Texts and Journals.
A general note applicable to the research process is the importance of understanding the scope of a
particular work, dates of coverage, and unique features. A quick review of the explanation of the
resource remains a key part of the research process. For electronic resources consult the about
pages for this information.
Among the objectives member states of the UN outlined in the preamble of the UN Charter
(http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/), was to establish conditions under which justice and
respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be
maintained. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the judicial body of the UN, identifies the
sources of international law in the (ICJ) Statute, Article 38 (http://www.icj-cij.org/documents/). The
statute reads as follows:
The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are
submitted to it, shall apply:
a. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly
recognized by the contesting states;
b. international custom, as evidence of a general practice accepted as law;
c. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations;
d. subject to the provisions of Article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most
highly qualified publicists of the various nations, as subsidiary means for the determination
of rules of law.

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Although the ICJ statute speaks to the sources applied specifically by the World Court and not
necessarily applied by other international courts or arbitral bodies, ICJ Article 38 sources are
commonly referred to when discussing the sources of international law.
Since the time the ICJ statute was concluded and entered into force in 1945, there has been a
dramatic growth in the development of international organizations and nongovernmental
organizations. In 1948, there were 40 nongovernmental organizations having consultative status
with the United Nations Economic and Social Affairs as compared to over 4,000 in recent years
Scholarship provides newer views and perspectives on the sources of international law, for examples
see, Why State Consent Still Matters - Non-State Actors, Treaties, and the Changing Sources of
International Law, in Berkeley Journal of International Law, Vol. 23, pp. 137-174 (2005)
(http://www.heinonline.org). Additional views regarding this topic may be further researched using
the resources identified in section IV, Texts and Journals in this chapter.
Supplemented with the practice of international organizations, the sources of law identified in ICJ
Article 38 provide a useful framework for identifying and describing the resources used in
researching international law. Discussion of the representative resources associated with the sources
of international law follows the table below.





Basic document collections

treaty, convention, agreement, instrument, protocol,

pact, compact, accord, charter, memorandum of

Treaty collections and compilations

Customary International Law

Codifications of customary international

Websites of treaty depositary

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State Practice and opinio juris


Diplomatic notes

National gazettes

Foreign policies

National statutes, constitutions,


National implementing legislation

State digests

Official government statements

Websites of state ministry offices

Opinions of legal advisers

Yearbooks of international law

Ratification of treaties & declarations

Websites of International Organizations

Voting behavior of states

General Principles of Law

Scholarly writings on legal principles

National laws

See resources corresponding to other

sources, especially Customary International

Decisions of national courts

Judicial Decisions

Case reports for international courts and


Decisions of international courts & tribunals

National and state reports

Decisions of national courts

Institut de Droit International

Writings of Publicists

International Law Association studies

Scholarly writings

International Law Commission

Recueil des Cours
Restatement of Law
Texts and treatises

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*Non Legally Binding Instruments

Documents of International Organizations

* Source of law not provided under ICJ Art. 38

Treaties are the most familiar source of international law between two or more sovereign states,
usually consisting of a formal written and signed document. The Treaty of Kadesh or Qadesh 1258
BCE (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/ramses-hattusili-treaty.htm) is recognized as one of the
first written diplomatic peace accords between two leading military powers in Egypt, Hattusili III of
the Hittite Empire and Ramses II of Egypt.
Treaty law making typically proceeds through a series of steps including negotiation, drafting,
adoption, signature, and ratification of the instrument. An officially designated representative of the
government or ministry who serves as a plenipotentiary or agent for the state usually performs these
functions. Article 7 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT)
(http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/vclt/vclt.html) specifies the rules on who can represent a state in the
capacity of concluding and adopting a treaty. The UN Protocol and Liaison Service
(http://www.un.int/protocol/) maintains a list of Heads of State, Government & Ministers for
Foreign Affairs.
Treaties are binding only on the parties who have signed and ratified the treaty. Non-signatories may
consent to treaty obligations by accession to the treaty. Amendments to treaties are in the form of
protocols. Signatories to the original treaty may or may not elect to sign and ratify a later protocol.
Treaty texts consist of numbered articles to define and lay out the obligations of contracting states.
The treaty also specifies the number of states required to ratify the treaty before it is entered-intoforce (EIF). A preamble, introductory note, or chapeau may precede the treaty text; these are
nonbinding elements of the treaty. A codicil and annex may also be appended to the document.
Bilateral Treaties
Bilateral treaties are often contractual agreements between two parties and represent the largest

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number of agreements between States, as compared to the over 500 multilateral treaties deposited
with the UN. In addition to peace treaties, other concerns featured in bilateral instruments relate to
air transport and Open Skies agreements, bilateral investment treaties (BITs), bilateral tax treaties,
and treaties involving mutual assistance in criminal matters.
Treaty finding tools for locating bilateral instruments are limited. In addition to resources
containing both bilateral and multilateral treaties listed below, researchers may also look to the
foreign ministry website of one of the contracting parties to the treaty. Member states of the UN are
required to deposit treaty texts with the UN Office of the Legal Adviser, so the UN Treaty
Collection database can also be searched. Topic based treaty collections may also be available. For
additional information on researching bilateral treaties, see topic-based chapters of the Guide
Multilateral Treaties
Multilateral treaties may establish a new international organization, institution or regime such as the
European Union (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/homepage.html) or the
International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention
(https://icsid.worldbank.org/ICSID/StaticFiles/basicdoc/basic-en.htm). These instruments may also
be referred to as constitutive instruments.
Multilateral treaties also demonstrate support of international norms and rules by looking at
ratification by member states. Examples of treaties receiving broad multilateral support include the
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel
Mines and on Their Destruction (http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cpusptam/cpusptam.html) and the
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/vcdr/vcdr.html).
Multilateral agreements, a list of signatories, and status information are usually posted on the website
of the depositary - the custodian of the treaty text and related documentation. Depositaries are
designated by the negotiating states and may be states or international organizations, see Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties
(http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/conventions/1_1_1969.pdf). The UN serves as
depositary for over 500 multilateral treaties (http://treaties.un.org/pages/UNTSOnline.aspx?id=1).
Locating Treaty Texts
Researchers have come to rely on web-based resources for both current and archival documents. This
research practice is especially true for finding multilateral treaties. A number of government,
commercial, and open access treaty resources are available. Please note specific dates of coverage for
each resource.


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Treaty Resources
League of Nations Treaty Series (http://treaties.un.org/Pages/LONOnline.aspx)
The online League of Nations treaty collection includes treaties registered with the Secretariat of the
League of Nations and published in the print League of Nations Treaty Series. Coverage is from
1920 through 1944.
UN Treaty Series Online Collection (http://treaties.un.org/Pages/UNTSOnline.aspx?id=1)
The treaty database may be searched by popular name, title, and party. Coverage is from 1946
present and includes treaties that have entered into force and are registered with the UN Treaty
Office. Unavailability of more recent documents may be due to delays in producing the required
translated treaty texts. In the event the researcher experiences inconsistent or absent search results,
searching alternative government or commercial resources may be necessary to locate the treaty
Monthly Statement of Treaties and International Agreements
(http://treaties.un.org/Pages/MSDatabase.aspx) The Treaty Section of the Office of Legal Affairs of
the Secretariat publishes a monthly list of treaties registered or filed and recorded with the UN
Secretary-General prior to the publication in the UN Treaty Series.
Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General
(http://treaties.un.org/pages/ParticipationStatus.aspx) A database providing status information of
over 500 multilateral treaties organized by topic area. Content may also be searched full text or
using the advanced search template. A list of current treaty texts
(http://treaties.un.org/pages/DB.aspx?path=DB/titles/page1_en.xml&menu=MTDSG) is also
UN Treaty Handbook
The Handbook provides an overview to the depositary practice of the Secretary-General and the
registration practice of the United Nations Secretariat. The UN site also has a glossary of treaty
terms and information on key multilateral treaty events.
UN Treaty Reference Guide
(https://treaties.un.org/pages/Overview.aspx?path=overview/treatyRef/page1_en.xml) This UN
guide, includes a brief overview of terminology used in treaty documents of the United Nations
Treaty Collection.
Other Treaty Resources
Avalon Project (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/default.asp) This extensive collection includes treaty
texts, reports, and other important historical documents organized chronologically by date and
event. Coverage of selected texts begins 4000bce.

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Consolidated Treaty Series (http://www.worldcat.org/title/consolidated-treaty-series/oclc/83656)

This series includes bilateral and multilateral texts from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 through
EISIL - Treaty Collections
The EISIL portal of multilateral treaties is organized by treaty secretariat, international organization
and region. Also see treaties included in specific topic categories in EISIL (http://www.eisil.org).
FLARE Index to Treaties (http://ials.sas.ac.uk/treatyindex.htm) Developed by the Institute of
Advanced Legal Studies, FLARE is a searchable database of citation and other information on
selected significant multilateral (1353 to the present) and bilateral treaties (1353-1815). Information
for each treaty includes the print or Internet source where the full text treaty document is available,
official languages used for the treaty text, and the name of the state or international organization
acting as depositary.
HeinOnlines United Nations Law Collection (www.heinonline.org) The UNTS and League of
Nations treaties are fully searchable by keyword, popular name, registration number, citation, place
of signature, and other search options. Search results include links to other UN materials available
on HeinOnline.
International Legal Materials (ILM) (www.asil.org/) ILM includes selected bilateral and multilateral
treaty texts including those that have been concluded but not yet entered into force. Coverage is
from 1962 present. This title is also available on HeinOnline (www.heinonline.org) and JSTOR
Multilateral Treaty Calendar, Repertoire des Traites Multilateraux, 1648-1995, by Christian
Wiktor, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1998 (http://www.worldcat.org/title/multilateral-treatycalendar-repertoire-des-traites-multilateraux-1648-1995/oclc/38566310&referer=brief_results).
Provides a chronological listing of treaties with citation to official and authoritative treaty resources.
World Treaty Index (http://worldtreatyindex.com) Coverage includes citation information for
bilateral and multilateral treaties signed between 1945 and 1999. Searches may be completed using
state party name, organization, keyword, and topic.
For a list of frequently cited treaties with corresponding citation information and links to full-text
treaty documents, see Frequently Cited Treaties and Other International Instruments
See other chapters of the Guide for treaty collections related to specific topic areas of international
law (http://www.asil.org/erghome.cfm).

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Codification Projects
International Law Commission (ILC) (http://www.un.org/law/ilc/). The International Law
Commission, established by Statute in 1947, is a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General
Assembly concerned with the promotion of the progressive development of international law and its
codification. The Commission is comprised of members from 34 states to identify areas of
international law that have or have not yet fully developed from state practice. For topics selected,
the Commission prepares draft conventions or codifications
UN Diplomatic Conferences (http://www.un.org/law/diplomaticconferences/) Topics selected for
codification include Law of the Sea, Law of Treaties with Respect of International Organizations,
and the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, Consular Relations, and Succession of States
Respecting Treaties. The convention texts are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian,
and Spanish.
Texts, Instruments, and Final Reports (http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/texts.htm) Provides access to
draft codifications organized by topics, examples include the Law of Treaties, Law of International
Relations, and many other areas. A Research Guide (http://legal.un.org/ilc/research.htm) provides an
alternative way to locate ILC documents and materials.
Harvard Law School, Research in International Law
(http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/9312904&referer=brief_results) This work is an example of a preILC codification project. The papers produced from this project spanning 1929-1939 were used by
the International Law Commission in developing the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations
and Consular Relations. This work is also available on HeinOnline.
For additional background on the ILC and earlier codification projects see Introduction to the ILC
Statute (http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/silc/silc.html) and Historical Survey of Development of
International Law and its Codification by International Conferences
(http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/documentation/english/ASIL_1947_study.pdf). A listing of UN
committees and bodies involved in drafting instruments or codification includes links to committee
materials and publications (http://www.un.org/law/lindex.htm).
Secondary texts on codification projects are also available, see especially, James Crawford,
International Law Commissions Articles on State Responsibility: introduction, text, and
commentaries (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/48249066&referer=brief_results).
Commentaries and Travaux Preparatoires
The working papers prepared during the drafting and negotiation of treaty instruments for selected
UN instruments may be identified using UN-I-QUE: United Nations Info Quest (http://lib13

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unique.un.org/DPI/DHL/unique.nsf?Open) or Official Document System (ODS)

(http://www.un.org/en/documents/ods/). Preparatory documents may also be available on the
website of the treaty secretariat or the international organization that sponsored the treaty. The
International Law Commission (ILC) Yearbook has documents prepared on the ILC's work in
drafting specific conventions (http://www.un.org/law/ilc/). See also, Draft Articles on the Law of
Treaties with Commentaries 1966 (http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/1_1.htm).
Published works on drafting history may also be available, for example, see Shabtai Rosennes, The
Law of Treaties; a Guide to the Legislative History of the Vienna Convention
Treaty Collections - States
Treaty documents and related information are often posted on the treaty section of the states official
website, several examples are provided below.
Australian Treaties Library (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/dfat/) The Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade of Australia maintains full text of bilateral and multilateral treaties from 1901 to
present. The Library is fully searchable, includes explanatory material, a flow chart of treaty-making
procedures, a list of multilateral treaties under negotiation, a multi-chapter report on Review of the
Treaty-Making Process (http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/
other/dfat/reports/review_treaty_making.html), as well as Australia and International Treaty Making
Czech Republic (http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
features a database of international instruments
(http://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/zahranicni_vztahy/mezinarodni_smlouvy/index.html). Information on
foreign relations, diplomatic missions and other topics is available in both Czech and English. Treaty
documents are in Czech.
France - Conventions et Accords Internationaux (http://www.senat.fr/dossierslegislatifs/conventions-accords-internationaux.html) Provides the text of bilateral and multilateral
treaties where France is a party.
Israel (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/treaties/multilateralagreements/) The website of the Israeli
Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a searchable database of multilateral treaties. The original official
version of treaty texts is published in "Kitvei Amana," Israel's Official Publication Journal.
Portugal (http://www.gddc.pt/siii/tratados.html) Treaties published in the Official Gazette may be
searched by subject, instrument title, or by countries or international organizations. Coverage is from
1960 to present. In Portuguese.

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South Africa, African Multilateral Organisations, Treaties, Conventions and Declarations,

(http://www.dfa.gov.za/foreign/Multilateral/africa/index.html) The South African Department of
Foreign Affairs has compiled a collection of treaties, conventions, and declarations related to African
multilateral organizations.
United States (http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/index.htm) The website of the Treaty Affairs office of
the US Department of State has information on Treaties and International Agreements (TIAS)
(http://www.state.gov/s/l/treaty/tias/), Treaty Actions, Treaties in Force, and other resources. Before
1950, US treaties approved by the US Senate were published in the U.S. Statutes at Large
(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwsl.html). The Treaties section on the website of the US
Senate provides links to several treaty related resources, see especially the Role of the Senate
(http://www.senate.gov/reference/Index/Treaties.htm). Treaty documents are also available on
Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information
(https://www.congress.gov/treaties/about). Researchers may still access Thomas for documents that
have not yet been added to Congress.gov. The HeinOnline Treaties and International Agreements
Library (www.heinonline.org) features an extensive collection of digitized materials related to treaties
where the US is a party. Materials include treaty reporters and compilations, historical diplomatic
papers, secondary texts, and US Department of State publications. Subscription is required.
National Treaty Law and Practice, edited by Duncan B. Hollis, Merritt R. Blakeslee and L.
Benjamin Ederington (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/57750117&referer=brief_results).
Government legal advisers and treaty experts from 15 nations convened to explore treaties from a
national perspective, that is, who states authorize to negotiate them, what roles various state
branches of government had in their formation, and what steps states took under their domestic law
to implement them. Also see the essay, A Comparative Approach to Treaty Law and Practice
Sources of State Practice in International Law, 2nd Revised Edition, edited by Ralph F. Gaebler and
Allison A. Shea (https://www.worldcat.org/title/sources-of-state-practice-in-internationallaw/oclc/884588256?referer=di&ht=edition).
Provides information related to treaty implementation and diplomatic activities of jurisdictions
around the world.
Customary international law includes both state practice and opinio juris, a practice followed by a
states belief in its legal obligation to act in ways consistent with the rule of law.
Resources available for researching and identifying evidence of state practice and general principles of
law include compilations of state practice collected by country or subject area, and national law
materials. Due to the variety of publication practices among states in making documents and laws

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available, an ad hoc research approach is usually required and may involve consulting both print and
electronic, and official and unofficial resources.
Digests and Yearbooks of International Law
Digests and yearbooks consist of a collection of documents, decisions, and legislative developments
related to international law for a particular country or topic. Societies of international law may
produce a journal that functions, in part, as a yearbook or digest of international law developments.
These titles may be released on yearly or more frequent basis. Representative examples of yearbooks
by states, international organizations, and topic are below.
African Yearbook of International Law
British Digest of International Law (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1575679&referer=brief_results)
German Yearbook of International Law (http://www.gyil.org/)
Netherlands Yearbook of International Law
Polish Yearbook of International Law (http://www.inp.pan.pl/pyil/)
Palestine Yearbook of International Law (http://www.brill.com/publications/palestine-yearbookinternational-law)
Revue Hellnique de Droit international (http://www.hiifl.gr/?page_id=691&lang=en)
Digest of United States Practice in International Law (http://www.state.gov/s/l/c8183.htm)
Yearbooks of International Organizations UN Juridical Yearbook
(http://www.un.org/law/UNJuridicalYearbook/index.htm). Includes documentation concerning
legal developments of the UN and related intergovernmental organizations.
Yearbook of International Co-operation on Environment and Development (YBICED)
Yearbook of the United Nations (http://unyearbook.un.org/)
Yearbook of Commercial Arbitration (www.kluwerarbitration.com/). Includes reporting on arbitral
awards and court decisions applying the leading arbitration conventions.
Selected digest and yearbook titles are also available on HeinOnline (www.heinonline.org).
Additional titles may be identified using OCLC WorldCat (www.worldcat.org/advancedsearch).

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Compilations of State Practice - Topic

Resources collecting state practice on specific subject areas are increasingly available. Examples of
some of the many excellent web-based resources that identify and collect national laws on specific
topics are provided below.
Food Agricultural (FAOLEX) (http://faolex.fao.org) FAO is a database of national laws and
regulations on food, agriculture and renewable natural resources.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), National Implementation Database
(https://www.icrc.org/ihl-nat). Documents include constitutions, statutes, and case law of states
implementing international humanitarian law. Documents may be located by state and keyword.
English is used throughout the database, but some documents are in French and Spanish.
Sustainable Knowledge Platform (http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates.html)
Member States to the Commission on Sustainable Development submit country profiles and
national assessment reports.
NATLEX (http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home) The International Labour
Organisation (ILO)s database provides access to national labor and social security legislation for 196
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Lex (http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/index.jsp)
WIPOLex provides access to national laws, treaties, and other information on intellectual property.
For research guidance on topic-based resources see the specialized chapters of the Guide
Other National Law Resources
Researching national legal materials is necessary to identify implementing treaty legislation as well as
domestic judicial decisions concerning international law. Below are some initial resources for
researching common law and civil legal systems.
Foreign Law Guide (http://www.foreignlawguide.com/) Edited by Marci Hoffman, this
subscription-based resource identifies legal sources of codes, constitutions, and other legal materials
for other 170 jurisdictions.
Foreign Ministries (http://botw.org/top/Society/Government/Foreign_Ministries/) Documentation
of official state pronouncements, diplomatic notes and foreign policy, and coverage of developments
in international law and relations are often posted on the websites of government foreign affairs
offices. Links to selected foreign ministry sites is available at this Best of the Web listing.

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Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)

As of mid-2014, GLIN is no longer available. Access to primary sources and other content may be
available through the Law Library of Congress, Guide to Law Online.
Globalex (http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html)Hosted by the Hauser Global Law
School Program at NYU School of Law, GlobaLex has research guides identifying primary and
secondary resources on legal systems from around the world.
Government Gazettes Online (http://wwwpersonal.umich.edu/~graceyor/doctemp/gazettes/index.htm) This resource from the University of
Michigan School of Information Science provides information on and links to official gazettes from
countries throughout the world.
N-Lex (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/n-lex/pri/pri_en.htm) N-Lex is a searchable database of national
laws of the member states of the European Union.
Oxford Constitutions of the World (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com/home/OCW) Formerly part of the
Oceana Law Online platform, this resource provides access to full-text national constitutions.
English-language translations and commentary from leading scholars is also provided.
World Legal Information Institute (WLII) (http://www.worldlii.org/)Provides access to legal
materials from many jurisdictions and regions including Africa, Asia, Australia, and the United
World Legal Systems (University of Ottawa) (http://www.juriglobe.ca/eng/index.php) Provides a
good overview of legal systems throughout the world including civil law, common law, Muslim law,
and mixed legal systems. The site is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and
One approach to quickly identifying resources by jurisdiction is to consult one of the Citation
Guides referenced in this chapter of the Guide.
General principles of law derive from state practice and possess a less definable character as compared
to other sources of international law. Classic examples of principles are equity, comity, fairness, and
good faith. Like customary international law, general principles develop over time and their
identification, appraisal, content, ranking, enforceability, and applicability are the subject of
different scholarly and judicial perceptions, see, Cherif Bassiouni, A Functional Approach to
General Principles of International Law, Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 1, pgs. 768818 (1989-1990). As characterized in 1963 by Marjorie Whiteman, a former US legal advisor:
While international law is comparatively clear and definite in many of its aspects, in others it is

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unclear and uncertain. It may be that a particular norm or principle, far from being its zenith, may
be either in its ascendancy or in its descendancy as international law. Further, the degree of
acceptance of a particular practice may vary within a particular period. See Whiteman, Digest of
International Law, Vol. 1, Preface III (1963)
Given the evolving nature of general principles and customary international law, there is a less
discrete set of resources associated with researching this source of international law. Researchers may
look to some of the same resources used to research customary international law, i.e., official
government pronouncements and foreign policies, and ratification of multilateral treaties and
declarations. Scholarly writings on general principles are also an important resource, several titles
appear below.
Cheng, Bin, General Principles of Law Applied by International Courts and Tribunals
Schacter, Oscar, Theory and Practice of International Law
Dolzer, Rudolf and Christoph Schreuer, Principles of International Investment Law
Additional discussion of principles is available in resources listed in sections IV. Texts and Journals
of this chapter. For guidance on researching topic-based areas of international law, consult the
specialized chapters of the ERG (http://www.asil.org/resource/home.cfm).
The scope of the ICJ source of international law, writings of publicists includes authoritative
writings by well-regarded scholars and jurists. In addition to the examples presented below, authors
of some of the classic texts identified in section IV, Text and Treatises of this chapter may be
considered publicists. Such writings may continue to be referenced in recent works for how well
the writer embraces a topic and decodes complex and nuanced themes in international law.
Institute of International Law, Institut de Droit International (http://www.idi-iil.org/) Founded in
Belgium in 1873, the Institute is a private, independent organization dedicated to the development
of international law. Information about its members, commissions, and adopted resolutions and
declarations is available. The website is available in English and French; some of the earlier
resolutions are available in French only.


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International Law Association (http://www.ila-hq.org/) Founded in Brussels in 1873, the

International Law Association (ILA) is an international organization devoted to the study and
development of public and private international law. ILA branches are located throughout the world.
Information about events including the biennial meeting is available from this website. ILA also
makes available the ILA Conference Reports and works of current and former Committees
(http://www.ila-hq.org/en/committees/index.cfm) and study groups (http://www.ilahq.org/en/committees/study_groups.cfm).
Recueil des Cours, Collected Courses of the Academy of International Law
(http://www.hagueacademy.nl) Published since 1923, the Recueil des Cours or Collected Courses of
the Hague Academy of International Law contain the lectures presented by international legal
scholars and practitioners at the Peace Palace in The Hague. The Peace Palace Library has an
electronic index of the Courses and is searchable by year, title word, author, and keyword
(http://www.peacepalacelibrary.nl/collection/e-resources/recueil-des-cours/). An electronic version
of the courses is available from the publisher, Brill Martinus Nijhoff
(hagueacademy.brillonline.com/main) and is also covered in HeinOnlines digital collection
There are also institutes devoted to studying specific areas of national law. Examples of national
institute projects with an international law focus are listed below.
American Law Institute (ALI) (http://www.ali.org/) The American Law Institute is a scholarly,
independent organization in the United States which is most known for its Restatements of US law
including, The Restatement of the Law on Foreign Relations
(http://www.ali.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publications.ppage&node_id=33). Tentative drafts are
prepared as part of the drafting cycle of restatements
(http://www.ali.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=projects.drafting). A cumulative supplement of case
citations is released annually. Currently under development is The Restatement of Law on
International Commercial Arbitration
European Law Institute (ELI), (http://www.europeanlawinstitute.eu/) Established in 2011, one of
the aims of the European Law Institute is to facilitate research projects on European law involving
collaboration between jurists, academia, and practitioners. Council-approved project results and ELI
Statements are available on the website.
For additional resources, see section V. Other Resources in this chapter.
Judicial decisions are a subsidiary source for identifying evidence of customary law under ICJ
Statute Art. 38. International courts may be established by treaty or created ad hoc through

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agreement between a government and state to adjudicate specific disputes.

Court websites are a reliable resource for locating full text decisions, rules of court, judicial
biographies, current awareness, and other materials. Print reporters may also be available and
researchers may need to consult both formats if there are differences in content, i.e., digest or full
text versions, access to accompanying maps, or other information. Texts featuring commentary on
judicial decisions are also available, for example see, Landmark Cases in International Law by Eric
Heinz and M. Fitzmaurice (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/22678749?referer=di&ht=edition).
The World Court
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) (http://www.icj-cij.org/), also known as the World Court, is
located in The Hague, Netherlands and was established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of
International Justice (PCIJ). The ICJ is the principal judicial body of the UN and hears contentious
cases by states agreeing to its jurisdiction. A majority of the cases involve territorial disputes, though
other substantive areas are represented in its jurisprudence. The Court also issues advisory decisions
at the request of selected UN bodies.
World Court Digest
Provided by The Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, this
resource is a searchable digest of judgments, advisory opinions, and orders of the ICJ. Information
on jurisdiction, procedure, and individual judges of the ICJ is also provided.
Arbitral Courts, Tribunals and Panels
Among the many arbitral courts is the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) (http://www.pcacpa.org/) established by the 1899 Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes.
The PCA provides dispute resolution services to states, organizations, and private parties. For
guidance on researching arbitration and economic law see chapters on International Commercial
Arbitration (http://www.asil.org/resource/arb1.htm) and International Economic Law
(http://www.asil.org/resource/iel1.htm) chapters in this Guide.
International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) (http://www.itlos.org/) The ITLOS website
contains information about the tribunal established by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS). Proceedings, judgments, basic texts, documents, and news updates are available from
the website. For more detailed research on this topic, see the chapters on the Law of the Sea
(www.asil.org/erg/?page=los) and International Environmental Law in this Guide
Criminal Courts and Military Tribunals

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The web sites of temporary courts like the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) (http://www.un.org/icty/index.html), the International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR) (http://www.un.org/ictr/) have basic legal documents, judgments, press releases and
information about publications. For more information about international criminal law research see
the International Criminal Law chapter (http://www.asil.org/crim1.cfm) and International
Humanitarian Law (http://www.asil.org/ihl1.cfm) chapters of this Guide.
Human Rights Courts
Cases regarding human rights violations are presented before various regional courts and UN bodies
including the European Court of Human Rights
(http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=home&c=), the Human Rights Committee
(http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/index.htm), and the Inter-American Court of Human
Rights (http://www.cidh.oas.org/DefaultE.htm). For more detailed information on researching
human rights, see the Human Rights chapter of this Guide (http://www.asil.org /humrts1.cfm).
In addition to individual international court and tribunal web sites, several resources provide
coverage of more than one court.
International Law Reports (ILR) (http://www.justis.com/data-coverage/international-lawreports.aspx) Prepared at the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, the ILR includes English
translations of decisions of international courts, arbitral awards, and judgments of national courts.
The collection covers boundary disputes, state and diplomatic immunity, refugee law, and other
areas of dispute settlement. The Annual Digest and Reports of Public International Law Cases, Vol.
1 (1919-22) through Vol. 16 (1949) is the predecessor series to ILR. Subscription is required.
Oxford Reports on International Law (www.oxfordlawreports.com) Coverage includes international
law in domestic courts, human rights law, international investment claims, and other topics. The
Oxford Law Citator provides links to related reports, full text documents, and commentary.
Subscription is required.
WorldLII: International Courts & Tribunals Project (http://www.worldlii.org/int/cases/) WorldLII
is an open access collection of decisions for over 20 international, regional, and multi-national courts
and tribunals. Coverage of decisions for the various courts varies but is usually from the inception of
the court and content is updated regularly.
2. National Courts
Resources on the role of judicial decisions may be found in library catalogs under the following
subject headings: municipal law, domestic law and national law. For resources that provide
information on accessing decisions of domestic courts see the section III.B., Customary International
Law in this chapter of the Guide.

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Representative texts helpful for background on municipal law include the Role of National Courts in
the International Legal Process in Rosalyn Higgins, International Law and How We Use It,
(http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/28926148&referer=brief_results) and International Decisions in
Domestic Courts, by Thomas Frank and Gregory Fox
Case Reports
International Law in Domestic Courts (ILDC) (http://ildc.oxfordlawreports.com/about#aboutildc)
ILDC is a searchable database of full-text decisions and commentary for over 65 jurisdictions.
Topics include human rights, jurisdiction, the law of treaties, and many others.
Judgments of national courts are also part of the coverage in International Law Reports (ILR)
(http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/publications/international-law-reports). An online version of this title is
available on Justis.
Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have an
increasingly visible role in the international law making process. Although the work product of
international organizations is not identified as a source of international law within the framework of
the ICJ Statute, Article 38, the ICJs 1949 advisory opinion, Reparations for Injuries Suffered in the
Service of the United Nations, is often referred to as establishing international organizations as actors
having legal personality status and capacity to bring an international claim (http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=4&code=isun&case=4&k=41).
The practice of international organizations may include amicus court briefs, fieldwork reports, and
development of non-legally binding documents that may serve as precursor documents leading to
treaty instruments. Examples of non-legally binding instruments are provided below.
The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of
Outer Space, December 13, 1963
(http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/1962(XVIII) is an example of a soft law
instrument that was the basis for the multilateral Outer Space Treaty
The Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, November 7,
1967. The declaration served as the basis for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), December 18, 1979. A chronological listing of these
and other preparatory documents is available on the UN website
Helsinki Rules on the Uses of Waters of International Rivers, August 1966

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(http://www.internationalwaterlaw.org/documents/intldocs/helsinki_rules.html) The Helsinki Rules

on the Uses of International Rivers, adopted by the International Law Association is among the
documents contributing to the development of rules for international law policy
For more detailed research guidance on international organizations see other chapters of the Guide
including International Organizations (http://www.asil.org/intorg1.cfm), European Union,
(http://www.asil.org/eu1.cfm) and United Nations (http://www.asil.org/un1.cfm).
Secondary resources are an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of a particular area or issue
in international law. Journal articles provide useful coverage of new and emerging developments in
international law.
Depending on the researchers familiarity with the subject area, texts may be consulted at different
times during the research process. For researchers new to a particular area of international law, texts
are especially useful as an initial step in the research process. For experienced practitioners, texts serve
as a repeatedly-used reference resource throughout the research process. Examples of both classic and
contemporary works are listed below.
General Texts
Brownlie, Ian Principles of Public International Law
Cassese, Antonio International Law (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/46694779&referer=brief_results)
Dupuy, Pierre Mari, Droit International Public
Malanczuk, Pieter, Akehursts Modern Introduction to International Law
L. Oppenheim, Oppenheims International Law
Shaw, Malcolm, International Law (http://www.worldcat.org/title/internationallaw/oclc/783441958&referer=brief_results)
Classic texts of international law include: J.L. Brierly, The Law of Nations, Hugo Grotius, De Jure
Belli ac Pacis, and Louis Henkin, How Nations Behave. There are also some wonderful nutshell-style
books that provide the researcher with a brief overview of international law, for example, see David
Bederman, International Law Frameworks and Public International Law by Thomas Buergenthal

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and Sean Murphy.

For researching historical developments in international law see texts by Nussbaums, A Concise
History of International Law, and Jan Hendrick Willems, Verzijl International Law in Historical
Perspective (http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/448285&referer=brief_results)
Additional authoritative texts may be found using OCLC WorldCat
(http://www.worldcat.org/advancedsearch). The websites of publishers specializing in international
law content are also important sources for identifying new texts and other resources. A
representative list of some of the leading publishers in the field of international law is provided
T.M.C. Asser Press (http://www.asser.nl/)
Brill Martinus Nijhoff (http://www.brill.nl/)
Bruylant (http://www.bruylant.be/)
Cambridge University Press (http://www.cambridge.org/)
Editions A. Pedone (http://www.pedone.info/)
Hart Publishing (http://www.hartpub.co.uk/)
Oxford University Press (www.oup.com)
Wolters Kluwer (http://www.kluwerlawonline.com/)

Digital Collections
Examples of digital collections are listed below.
Gale, The Making of Modern Law (http://www.gale.com/ModernLaw/) The Foreign, Comparative
and International Law archive includes full-text English language legal texts from the 19th and 20th
century. The collection has casebooks, municipal practice manuals, pamphlets, letters and speeches
and other works on international law authored by Grotius, Marten, Vattel, Wharton and many
HeinOnline, Foreign and International Law Resource (FRILD) (http://www.heinonline.org/) This
collection includes a variety of international law resources such as digests, yearbooks, law reviews,
and selected judicial and arbitral reports.
HeinOnline, Legal Classics Library (http://www.heinonline.org) Many earlier legal texts have been
digitized by Hein including Classics of International Law, edited by James Brown Scott.

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United Nations Audiovisual Library (http://www.un.org/law/avl/) In addition to

audiovisual clips of leading scholars presenting on various topics of international law, there is also a
research library of articles, documents, and other materials.
Festschriften and Liber Amicorum. A published collection of essays written by various authors to
honor a distinguished jurist or memorialize a significant event in international law is referred to as
Liber Amicorum or Festschriften. The following resources help provide access to these collections.
Please note the scope of content and dates of coverage.
The Index of Common Law Festschriften
(http://www.library.auckland.ac.nz/databases/alt/festschrift/) Developed at the University of
Auckland, New Zealand, this database provides article level indexing of over 4,500 essays written in
honor of a distinguished jurist, legal practitioner or scholar. The collection is limited to English
language and selected common law jurisdictions and searchable by subject, essay author or honoree.
Coverage is from 1888-2005.
Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) is available on HeinOnline (http://www.heinonline.org).
Festschriften are among the legal publications included in the IFLP. Coverage is from 1960 to
present and is updated regularly.
Public International Law, Concordance of the Festschriften by Peter Macalister-Smith and Joachim
Schwietzke. This index to festschriften is organized by honoree and subject
Journal Collections
There are several journal collections available for international law content. Note that some journal
titles may have embargo periods that limit access to current content.
HeinOnline (http://heinonline.org/) HeinOnline has an extensive collection of foreign and
international law journal titles. Subscription is required.
Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) (http://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/iflp/) Produced by
the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Berkeley Law Library, University of
California, IFLP is a multilingual index to articles and book reviews from journals, yearbooks, and
festschriften. Coverage is from 1960 to present and is available on HeinOnline

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JSTOR (http://jstor.org) JSTOR hosts a cross-disciplinary collection of scholarly journals in law,

humanities, social sciences, and other areas. Subscription is required.
Lexis (http://www.lexis.com/) and Westlaw (http://westlaw.com) have good collections of general
and international law reviews. Subscription is required. The newer platforms for these resources are
LexisAdvance (http://www.lexisnexis.com/en-us/products/lexis-advance.page) and WestlawNext
(http://legalsolutions.thomsonreuters.com/law-products/westlaw-legal-research), respectively.
Social Science Research Network (SSRN) (http://www.ssrn.com) SSRN features advance publication
of scholarly articles. The Legal Scholarship Network is one of several subject-based repositories
(http://www.ssrn.com/lsn/index.html). Registration is required and some articles may require a
downloading fee.
Educational institutions offering coursework in international law may also publish journals in
specific topic areas. Washington & Lee University maintains an extensive list of Law Journals
(http://lawlib.wlu.edu/LJ/index.aspx?country=All%20Countries&subject=International+Law) from
institutions and organizations around the world.
For information on identifying journal titles unique to a particular area of international law see the
individual chapters of the Guide (http://www.asil.org/erghome.cfm)
Several organizations and institutions sponsor activities, publications, and other resources on
international law. Papers from lectures and course offerings may also be available. The published
proceedings of international conferences and meetings are good resources for discussion of current
developments in international law.
Hague Academy of International Law, (http://www.hagueacademy.nl/) In addition to the Recueil
des Cours, a series of student papers presented at The Hague Academy is available. See the titles
listed under publications Centre for Studies and Research in International Law and International
Relations, Centre d'tude et de recherche de droit international et de relations internationale
International Law Students Association (ILSA) (http://www.ilsa.org) Information about events
including conferences and the Jessup Competition is available at this web site. ILSA sponsors
publication of The ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law, the International
Practitioner's Notebook, and ILSA Quarterly. HeinOnline has a Philip C. Jessup Library that
includes the briefs from past year competitions.
Lauterpacht Centre for International Law (http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/) In addition to publications

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like International Law Reports (ILR) (http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/publications/), Lauterpacht is well

known for its projects on State Responsibility
(http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/projects/the_ilcs_work_on_state_responsibility.php) and Customary
International Humanitarian Law (http://www.lcil.cam.ac.uk/projects/cihl_project.php)
Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law
A variety of electronic offerings are available from the Max Planck Institute located in Hamburg,
Germany. See especially, the Encyclopedia of Public International Law
(http://www.mpil.de/ww/en/pub/research/details/publications/institute/epil.cfm), The World Court
Digest, and a Bibliography of Public International Law
(http://www.mpil.de/ww/en/pub/library/catalogues_databases/doc_of_articles/pil.cfm). There is
also the Zeitschrift fur auslandisches offentliches Recht and Volkerrecht (Heidelberg Journal of
International Law) 1929 - ) (http://www.hjil.de/) and the Journal of the History of International
Law (http://www.mpil.de/ww/en/pub/research/details/publications/institute/jhil.cfm).
Peace Palace Library, Bibliotheek Vredespaleis (http://www.peacepalacelibrary.nl/) Several resources
are available from this site which draws from its extensive collection of international law materials
located in The Hague, Netherlands. Useful finding tools include select bibliographies, recent
acquisitions lists, and alerts. The Grotius Collection, named in honor of 17th century international
law scholar Hugo Grotius, is also available. Research guides provide narrative descriptions of
international law topics and link to relevant titles in the Peace Palace library collection.
Swiss Institute for Comparative and International Law (http://www.isdc.ch/en/institut.asp/4-010000-5-4-1/) Publications and other materials are available at this site, searchable in French,
German, Italian, and English.
United Nations, Dag Hammarskjld Library (http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/)
The Library's web site provides links to UNBISnet (the UN Bibliographic Information System),
documents alerts, guides, and special subject resources.
WorldCat (http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/)
The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) in Dublin, Ohio is a nonprofit, membership, library
computer service and research organization. Researchers may search the WorldCat online catalog of
materials held by OCLC member libraries to identify titles located in a particular geographic area.
Societies of International Law
Scholarly and professional organizations often produce publications and sponsor conferences on
international law. Examples include the American Society of International (http://www.asil.org/),
the European Society of International Law (http://www.esil-sedi.eu/), and the Indian Society of

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International Law (http://www.isil-aca.org/index.htm).

Swiss Institute for Comparative and International Law (http://www.isdc.ch/en/institut.asp/4-010000-5-4-1/) Publications and other materials are available at this site, searchable in French,
German, Italian, and English.
United Nations, Dag Hammarskjld Library (http://www.un.org/Depts/dhl/) The Library's web site
provides links to UNBISnet (the UN Bibliographic Information System), documents alerts, guides,
and special subject resources.
WorldCat (http://www.worldcatlibraries.org/) The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) in
Dublin, Ohio is a nonprofit, membership, library computer service and research organization.
Researchers may search the WorldCat online catalog of materials held by OCLC member libraries to
identify titles located in a particular geographic area.
Additional research guides on international law are listed below and are very useful in providing
research guidance and identifying specific titles and resources of interest.
Peace Palace Library Research Guides
Treaties Research, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Researching Customary International Law and Generally Recognized Principles (University of
California Berkeley) (http://www.law.berkeley.edu/library/classes/iflr/customary.html)
Researching Public International Law (Columbia Law School Arthur W. Diamond Library)
la Recherche des Travaux Prparatoires: An Approach to Researching the Drafting History of
International Agreements (Globalex)


The resources listed in this section require periodic revision to reflect new resources in international
law. Many of these titles are available in both print and electronic format.
Citation Guides

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In addition to providing guidance on proper citation form for legal writing, these guides also identify
primary and secondary resources for a particular legal system or jurisdiction.
AWLD Guide to Legal Citation (http://www.alwd.org/publications/citation-manual/)
This online citation manual is developed by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (AWLD).
The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (http://www.legalbluebook.com)
Prepared by the law review editorial staffs from several academic institutions in the U.S., the
Bluebook is the leading citation manual for U.S. law schools. Citation form is available for
international materials and jurisdictions throughout the world. An online edition is also available.
Cardiff's Guide to Legal Abbreviations (http://www.legalabbrevs.cardiff.ac.uk/)
This resource provides information on abbreviations for case law reports, periodicals, selected
legislative publications and textbooks for over 295 jurisdictions. English and foreign language legal
publications are covered as well as many international and comparative law titles.
Google Book Search (http://books.google.com/advanced_book_search)
Google Book Search allows the researcher to confirm citation of short passages found in selected
book titles.
Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citation, New York University School of Law,
Formerly known as the International Citation Manual, this guide provides a description of legal
systems for selected countries and identifies websites for legislation, courts, texts, articles, and official
publications. Sections on international organizations and international courts are also included.
Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (OSCOLA)
Citation of international law is included in OSCOLA 2006.
The following resources also provide extended explanations of terms in international law as applied
in historical and current contexts.
Boczek, Boleslaw Adam International Law Dictionary
(http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/56111661?referer=di&ht=edition) In addition to in-depth
definitions of international law terms, there is a chronology of international law events, table of
cases, glossary and bibliography of resources.
Fox, James R., ed., Dictionary of International and Comparative Law


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Grant, John P. and J Craig Barker, Encyclopedic Dictionary of International Law

((http://www.worldcat.org/title/encyclopaedic-dictionary-of-internationallaw/oclc/503579127&referer=brief_results). This resource was formerly edited by Clive Parry and
John Grant.


To the extent they are accessible and affordable, it is important for the researcher to seek out official
or authoritative translations of primary and secondary international law documents and texts. Some
publications may include a translated abstract or summary of the document. Another option is to
identify compilations of documents available in selected topic areas that may include translations of
selected materials.
Many of the pre-World War II texts in international law were available in French and may not have
versions available in other languages. Documents of international organizations are often translated
into one or more languages. Texts and other resources of the UN are often available in the six
languages of the UN: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
For instances when a translated version of a resource is not available, a researcher may consider
engaging a translation service to perform the translation, though these services are often costly and
very time consuming. Internet-based translation tools provide researchers with a low or no-cost
alternative for translating documents. While these tools may not yet be considered completely
reliable, especially for lengthy analytical pieces, they can be helpful for understanding brief passages
from texts and documents. Some Internet web browsers recognize a web page that is in another
language and conveniently prompt the user to access the browsers translation tool. Examples of
Internet translation tools include the following:
Bing Translator (https://www.bing.com/translator/)
Google Language Tools (http://www.google.com/language_tools?ht=en)
SDL FreeTranslation (http://www.freetranslation.com/)
Systran (http://www.systransoft.com/)
WorldLingo (http://www.worldlingo.com/en/products_services/worldlingo_translator.html)
Examples of fee-based and open access multilingual dictionaries are listed below.
IATE- Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (http://iate.europa.eu/iatediff)
Administered by the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union, IATE is a
multilingual database of abbreviations and phrases in the languages for member countries of the EU.

This page was last updated May 1, 2015

A diverse range of subject areas includes economic policy, international law and relations, and
international organizations.
Oxford Language Dictionaries (http://www.oxfordlanguagedictionaries.com/)
The Oxford two-way bilingual dictionaries provide translations of words and phrases to and from
English to several different languages including Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, and
Spanish. Subscription is required.
Ultralingua (http://www.ultralingua.com/onlinedictionary/dictionary)
French, German, Latin, Portuguese and Spanish are among the languages available for translation of
terms and phrases. Open and subscription-based levels of access are available.


Resources that monitor developments in international law include electronic newsletters, blogs, and
other resources. Most international organizations and international court web sites support an
electronic alert or RSS feature. Book reviews in journals of international law are also good resources
for information on new scholarship. Below are some of the offerings providing international law
ASIL Insights (http://www.asil.org/insights.cfm) Current developments in international law are
featured in this electronic newsletter provided by the American Society of International Law.
Council on Foreign Relations (http://www.cfr.org)
The Council on Foreign Relations provides coverage of new developments in international and
foreign relations.
International Law in Brief (ILIB) (http://www.asil.org/blogs/ilib?blog=81) Developed by the editors
of International Legal Materials, this newsletter includes a brief description of documents associated
with new developments in international law. Content includes treaties, resolutions, judicial
decisions, legislation, and other documents of interest.
International Law Reporter (http://ilreports.blogspot.com/) This blog features updates on new
publications including law journals, yearbooks and newly released texts.
Opinio Juris (http://www.opiniojuris.org/) This blog features frequent posts on current issues in
international law and a searchable archive of prior postings. An extensive list of other international
law blogs is also provided.
To explore a topic in greater depth and detail, consult the specialized chapters of the ERG

This page was last updated May 1, 2015

Kelly Vinopal is a Research Librarian at Crowell & Moring, LLP, an international law firm
headquartered in Washington, DC. In 2004-2010 she was the Director of Information Resources
for the American Society of International Law (ASIL) where she oversaw the Societys collection of
international law materials and electronic resources and was Project Director of the Electronic
Information System for International Law (EISIL) and the ASIL Guide to Electronic Resources for
International Law.
Kellys previous positions were Senior Reference Librarian at Dickstein Shapiro and Reference
Librarian at Georgetown University Law Center Library. She has designed and taught seminars in
legal research methods, the Internet, and participated in AALL Bridge the Gap programs to
introduce students to practice-oriented research. Through her association with the American
Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the Librarians Society of Washington, DC (LLSDC) she
has served in various leadership roles and, education and scholarship activities. She received her B.A.
degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and her M.L.I.S. from Texas Womans
University. Kelly is also a member of International Association of Law Libraries.